PHOTO: The voting precinct at the Williamson County Administrative Complex. / Photo by Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
After the final day of early voting in the county wide sales tax referendum, the Williamson County Election Commission reports 4.5 percent of registered voters cast a ballot.
On Thursday, 1,058 people voted, a number which dwarfed Wednesday’s total of 818, the next highest day for voter turnout. In total, the election commission received 6,382 ballots in the early voting period.
If passed, the measure would raise the full sales tax from 9.25 percent to 9.75 percent for all cities in Williamson County, except Fairview. It is already at the tax limit. For three years, the money generated from the increase will be given to Williamson County Schools for the construction of new schools.
The election is a rare standalone. Mayor Rogers Anderson recently said he couldn’t recall a similar, one-item vote “in modern times,” referring to the past 20 years.
Williamson County’s administrator of elections Chad Gray noted that around 85 percent of individuals who cast a ballot during the early voting period, which ran for two weeks, had been registered in the county for four or more years.
Gray, a longtime employee of the election commission, said he had noticed the trend in recent years. “It seems like people that have moved here and registered more recently don’t participate in local elections as much,” he said. “The turnout has generally been among those who have lived here for a longer period.”
He cited a broad range of ages, but noted that most people who voted early were middle-aged or older.
This week’s turnout has been heavier than the previous two. This contrast is in part because of the additional polling locations that opened in Nolensville, Fairview, Spring Hill and at the Agricultural Exposition Center. In addition, Gray noted, “people are procrastinators.”
After election day, Gray anticipates a total vote of around 10 percent, or 13,000 of the county’s 140,906 registered voters.
Election day is Tuesday, February 6, at normal polling locations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit williamsonvotes.net.